Homebuyers hoping to move into a new central Watford development before Christmas may not get the keys to their new flats until June.

Covered in white plastic sheeting, construction work at the Queensgate development in Loates Lane has stagnated while the building standing next to it, named The Pulse, has reached completion - despite starting after its neighbour.

The development began under the control of Kings Oak North London, but the company was taken over by Barratt Homes in April.

Subsequently, the new owners found the development did not meet its required standards.

A report was also commissioned to establish what work would be needed to rectify any faults and Barratt wrote to those who had reserved a property at the development on May 30, to explain completion had been put back until the spring of 2008.

Jamie and Jeanette Waters, of Marlborough Road, Watford, put down a £1,000 deposit on a two-bedroom flat with en-suite bathroom, worth £290,000, in June after joining the Government's First Time Buyers scheme.

However, they claim not to have received any letter from Barratt and were forced to contact the homebuilder when rumours spread about the building's condition.

Two weeks ago, they were told construction was set to be completed in February 2008 but a letter received last Friday said they could now be left waiting until June.

Jamie said: "We got the paperwork done quickly and were very excited about moving in December.

"But it has been very frustrating for us. Where we rent we have to give notice to the landlord. If we move out in June, that's an extra £3,000 worth of rent we could have paid on our mortgage.

"I think when it's finished it will be very good. And I love the location. It's right in the town centre. For me it's five minutes to work.

"And if we come to sell it I think it should maintain it's value.

"It's just the fact they haven't been upfront with us. It's just wrong the way they deal with people."

Additional construction work was scheduled for the building after the completion of engineers reports, but Barratt would not reveal what problems they found.

Glyn Hopping, managing director of Barratt North London, said buyers were regularly updated on the progress of Queensgate.

And they also have an option to have their deposits refunded.

He added: "Although we have given buyers estimated dates of completion, we are unable to give exact dates at this stage due to the nature of the building work and external factors which can influence the build programme.

"We are sorry for any inconvenience caused by the delays, however, we do not wish to compromise the build quality and are carrying out work to ensure buyers will be nothing but completely delighted with their new homes."

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